Thursday, July 9, 2015

Summarizing My Three Years In Texas - What I Learned, Enjoyed & How To Adjust To Life In Another Country

Time passes by so quickly. Soon there will be the third anniversary of my arrival in the States and in Texas. I think it is a good reason to sum up my experiences and write something about it. Just a few thoughts. Some of my previous posts have already touched the topic in certain ways but I do not intend to repeat myself.

A brief summary on what was new to me, what I learned/experienced/found out.

1. Housing
That was quite surprising - to learn that houses here are built in a totally different way, comparing to houses in Poland and Europe (where houses are made mostly of bricks and concrete, not wood). When I lived in Poland I read an article about a lady who had been stuck in an office toilet (somewhere in the States). Since it was late and there was no one to free her, within a few hours, she managed to scratch a hole in a wall and got out. Reading that news I could not understand how she had been able to do it. Because I had a Polish kind of wall in mind - thick and hard. You could scratch it for a month or longer and who knows whether it would be long enough to be successful (to make a big hole to go through it). Now I know the difference. But I still find it peculiar when I see a half of a house being transported somewhere.

2. Before I moved to Texas, I sometimes happened to watch a show (on TLC) about a health place, run by doctors and other professionals, for teenagers with obesity problems. The program presented the kids' dramas and struggles. At that time I found those young ones (with no offense) extremely and unusually big. Mainly because proper diet and keeping the right body weight had always been a topic in Poland. When I came to Texas, I learned those teenagers were neither extreme nor unusual. At least not here.

3. Clothes and their sizes
I am S when in Texas (feels good!). When in Europe, I am M, sometimes L, depending on a country where the clothes are made or/and the manufacturer.

4. Language
Of course, it helps when you are able to speak English (unless you can speak Spanish). But since I had learned British English, sometimes the differences in vocabulary and pronunciation caused a lot of confusion. Meaning myself and people whom I tried to talk to.
Some examples? Here they are:
Once I wanted to get a haircut and have my fringe trimmed. A usual thing but the hairstylist did not understand what I wanted. So I showed her. Later I learned that 'fringe' is called 'bangs' here.
Another time, when at a supermarket, I wanted to get a trolley - people did not know what I meant. So now I also call it 'a cart' as everybody else around.
There are more such words of course: a plaster and bandage, plaster and cast and so on, and so on.

5. Food/ Cuisine
  • I quite like the traditional Southern dishes. However, when I prepare them at home, I try to make them lighter and, of course, add a Polish style to them. 
  • Coleslaw is a popular side in Poland, so I was happy when I also found it on the menus here. 
  • Fish and chips in Texas taste much better than the ones I happened to have in England.
  • I have always liked cod and other cold sea kinds of fish. In Texas, catfish and hush puppies have become my favorite food too.
  • Tea is very popular in Poland but it is commonly served hot. I guess the reason is much colder climate there. In Texas, I learned to drink cold tea, especially during the summer. By the way, my husband makes the best cold tea in the world!
  • Buffet type food places are fun (and the ones we visit offer tasty meals too).
  • Best hot & sour soup ever, not to mention other Chinese dishes, are made in a certain Pearl Chinese Restaurant in North TX.
  • Obviously, while in Texas, I have learned a lot about Tex-Mex cuisine too. And I also enjoy having it from time to time. 
Some of the posts on food and drinks I wrote earlier: 
My First Thanksgiving & Cooking Challenge
About Groceries, Bread And Everyday Meals
About Doing New Things & How I Won With Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Pearl Chinese Restaurants
The Ultimate Buffet Experience At Pizza Inn

6. Music and Live Entertainment
  • Bass Hall in Fort Worth is quite a pretty place and so is Winspear Opera House in Dallas. 
  • I have always been fond of music by Tchaikovsky but I needed to come to Texas to see 'The Nutcracker' live. At Christmas. And learn that it is one of the local Holiday traditions.
  • Besides that, we enjoyed watching many other ballets and music performances including a musical by Gershwin, classical music, jazz, traditional Irish music and more.
  •  North Texas Irish Festival - various interesting traditional music and dance groups, and more modern, rock bands. Quite an event. While listening to some of the musicians who sang and played shanty-like songs, I had a feeling I was back by the sea in Poland.
  • Scottish Festival & Highland Games - music and fun again!
  • Scarborough Fair reminds me old times country fairs seen in movies. The same atmosphere and similar attractions. Laughter and stage magic! Not to mention the mermaids and their stories. :)
  • Sports: rodeo, baseball, and hockey games - enjoyable and entertaining.
My First Live Baseball Game
My First Live Hockey Match
My First Time At The Rodeo

7. Cars and washing machines
Mostly everybody in Texas has a car but not everybody has a washing machine. It is the opposite in Poland. With very well developed public transport, numerous bus stops and buses going to various places every few minutes, commuter trains, ferries (at least where I come from), a car is simply not needed there. I used to know people in Poland who, despite having a car, preferred going to work by bus - to save on gas and to avoid traffic stress too.
In Texas, a car is a kind of first aid thing. Not having one can cause real problems.

8. Travel
  • Texas Hill Country is absolutely beautiful!
  • Everybody is somebody in Luckenbach.
  • We remember the Alamo too.We visited the place during our first Texas travels. 

9. Nature
Texas is not just a desert as quite a lot of guys in Poland tend to think (maybe because of the westerns they have seen and the scenery shown in those movies). The state has a lot of greenery, flowers, botanic gardens and beautiful landscapes.
When in Texas, I 'discovered' many plants which are also grown in Poland. The difference is that there, they are small, nursed mainly in plant pots. It is nice to see how big and beautiful they can become in the hot climate and weather conditions.
I saw raccoons as big as fat cats, admired the lovely birds of Texas (the red cardinal is my favorite one) and enjoyed listening to their songs (meaning birds of course, not raccoons); smelled some animals (guess what it was - did not enjoy it at all).
Bluebonnets are smaller and cuter here than similar kinds of plants which I know from Poland. On the other hand, the European ones are colorful, not only blue.

Finally, my advice for those of you who have moved to another country:
  • Visit various places in your new neighborhood/ area. Try to learn some history to better understand local people and  their customs as well.
  • Be open to differences and new things.
  • Do not categorize: 'better'/'worse' than at home. It does not change anything and leads you to nowhere. 
  • Find some places you like to go to and something you like doing.
  • Take everything as it is.
  • Try to adjust to new life circumstances and the society but remember who you are and where you come from.
  • ENJOY!


  1. I really like your "take it as it is" and "do not categorize" approach. Looking back when I moved to the US, I think I spent too much time mourning my home country of Poland, and wasted energy to compare, instead of embracing this new land, that now I call home! Pozdrawiam.

  2. Such a change is never easy but we can try to make it easier not going 'against the current'. Wszystkiego dobrego :)